Shocking stats expose the real issues within this out of sorts NUFC side

Newcastle are in the midst of a torrid run, with a return of just a solitary point at the Hawthorns from our last seven games sucking us well and truly into the relegation reckoning.

Some interesting stats become apparent this week, with it being clear that it is actually our defence that have caused us problems, more so than our options going forward – a real contrast to the start of the season, where we looked solid at the back but toothless up top.

Defensive woes

Only six teams have now conceded more than us in the league so far this season (Palace, Huddersfield, West Ham, Stoke, Watford, Everton) and worryingly, we have shipped 15 in our last 5 games – which is on average 3 a game.

There’s still plenty teams who’ve been worse than us at the back, but given that we prided ourselves on not conceding many goals earlier in the season, this shows just how much things have spiralled out of control.

Granted, we have faced some teams at the top of the table during that time but it’s still a far cry from the solid NUFC we witnessed during the start of the season.

This has coincided with adopting and continued persistence of 4-4-2 by Benitez. It has ensured more goals scored but we are so much more open at the back. Leicester’s winner was a prime example; our defence looked like a team who were 2-0 down and chasing a late way back into the game, not one who could gain a much needed point.

We need to get back to basics and to a protective 4-2-3-1 system. Regaining our discipline, hard to beat look and keeping clean sheets will be the key to ending this dreadful run of form before it’s too late.

We’re now scoring goals – but being outscored

One positive of 4-4-2 has been the form of Dwight Gayle, who is finally delivering some goals this season. We are the second highest scoring side in the bottom half also, with only Stoke having scored more than us this season.

Gayle does deserve respect for waiting his chance and for doing his bit since he got back in the XI. It is a shame his strikes have not equalled points but getting the best out of him in the lone striker role, which suits the team better, is a puzzle we are still to solve this season.

Scoring goals seemed to be the big issue for us in our first 10 games or so, but now it seems to be the opposite. We can’t stop conceding. If someone had told you earlier in the season that both our strikers would find the net and we’d score two at home to Leicester (as we did on Saturday), they’d never had predicted we’d concede three and lose like we did. Things have really changed.

Lascelles should be back which may help our shaky defence but what do you think has caused us to concede so regularly? What defence or formation shall we go with from now on?

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About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

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